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France has rejected Russian defense ministry statements saying that a missile strike on Kharkiv took out a unit of French mercenaries earlier this week. Russia’s military claimed that “several dozen Frenchmen” were killed in the Tuesday night strike.

“France has no mercenaries, neither in Ukraine nor elsewhere, unlike certain others,” France’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs responded on Thursday. This is after Russia also summoned France’s ambassador to Moscow, Pierre Levy, to its foreign ministry demanding an explanation of the foreign fighters’ presence in the conflict zone.

The French government statement continued, “France helps Ukraine with supplies of military material and military training, in full compliance with international law, in order to help Ukraine in its fight to defend its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”

This flatly contradicts the Russian Defense Ministry’s initial statement, which said: “On the evening of 16 January, the armed forces of the Russian Federation carried out a precision strike on a temporary deployment point of foreign militants in the city of Kharkiv, the core of which were French mercenaries.”

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